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Who Is Ethan Couch? 7 Bizarre New Details To Know About The 'Affluenza' Teen, Including His Release From Jail

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who is ethan couch released from jail

Who is Ethan Couch? What did he do? And what is 'affluenza' anyway?

Who is Ethan Couch, the affluenza teen? And who is Tonya Couch, Ethan Couch's mom? After two years behind bars, a Texas teen named Ethan Couch is being released from prison today. Known as the “Affluenza teen” Crouch gained notoriety in 2013 after going on trial for the intoxication manslaughter of four people and the injury of five others. His defense argued that even though Crouch had been driving drunk when he caused the accident, it wasn’t really his fault because he was too privileged to know right from wrong. Allegedly, Couch's parents had taught him that his wealth meant that he didn't have to face consequence, so the kid went through life doing exactly what he wanted, no matter who got hurt.

For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, the judge agreed that “spoiled rich kid” is in fact an affirmative defense and sentenced Couch to rehab and probation.

Here’s everything you need to know about Ethan Couch and why you might want to stay off the roads in his town:

1. Couch started the night of the crash by stealing beer from a Walmart and then went joyriding in his dad’s truck with several friends. 

His friends weren’t wearing seatbelts. He had a restricted license at the time. While doing 70 mph on a suburban road, he crashed into a stalled vehicle, which then plowed into an oncoming car, while Crouch’s truck flipped into a tree. Four people were killed in the accident and five others were injured including a passenger in Crouch’s truck who was left paralyzed.


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2. Normally, a conviction for intoxication manslaughter in Texas carried a jail term of 2-20 years in prison.

But Couch escape a jail sentence because a psychologist testified that he suffered from “affluenza”, a non-clinical term for “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.” The teen pled guilty but his defense begged for leniency on the grounds that his actions were due to bad parenting. G. Dick Miller, an expert witness and psychologist, claimed Crouch had been taught that wealth buys privilege and didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. He was sentenced to rehab and 10 years of probation.

3. In 2015, Couch missed a check-in with his probation officer and disappeared.

There was an international manhunt and he was finally found in Mexico. After he was brought back to the US, his case was transferred to the adult system and he was sentenced to four consecutive terms of 180 days in jail (one term for each of the car crash victims) equaling two years in jail, as punishment regarding his original drunk driving case from 2013.

4. His mom was his accomplice on when he tried to flee the country.

Tonya Couch, the person who apparently spoiled her child to the point of not knowing right from wrong, fled with her son to Mexico. She was indicted on charges of money laundering and hindering the apprehension of a known felon. She’s been out on bail but she apparently took notes from her son and also violated the terms of her release by not showing up for a drug test. She was booked into the same jail as Ethan days before his release.


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5. His parents really were pretty bad.

His parents divorced in 2006 and all the members of the family were interviewed by social workers resulting in a 9 page report detailing a lot of family dysfunction. Fred Couch claimed his ex-wife was an addict who had given Ethan Vicodin on more than one occasion. Tonya Couch said Fred was verbally and physically abusive, slapping and hitting her. Tonya also claimed that Fred had manipulated family members with money. There multiple reports of police being called to the house. Fred was once arrested for punching a person but he never served time for it. There are no details about whether he used an affluenza defense to get away with assault however.

6. Ethan Couch is still going to be allowed to drive.

The terms of his release include a camera-equipped ignition interlock device on his car. He’ll also be subject to daily drug and alcohol monitoring, including a substance abuse patch that he’ll wear. He will have to wear a GPS tracking device at all times and he isn’t allowed out of his home between 9pm and 8am.

7. Couch is on probation until 2024.

If he messes up any of the terms of his release, he’ll be subject to up to 40 years in jail for his original crime. Given his history so far, not everyone is optimistic about his future: "The time of incarceration he's had I'd like to think it would have changed him, but my position hasn't changed,” said Richard Alpert, the former prosecutor  who tried Couch’s original case.  “Ethan's character is what it is. His character was formed long before the conduct that brought him in contact with the district attorney's office. And I would be very surprised if he completes his probation."


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Rebekah Kuschmider is a DC area writer with a background in non-profit management and advocacy Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and is a contributor the book Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox (an anthology, SheWrites Press, Nov. 2015). She is a cohost of the weekly political podcast The More Perfect Union.

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